Cuccinelli focuses on opposition to health-care law at Shenandoah appearance

Norm Shafer/For The Washington Post - Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli II speaks at a rally with Va. GOP Chairman Pat Mullins, attorney general candidate Mark Obenshain and Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).

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WEYERS CAVE, Va. — Republican Ken Cuccinelli II focused nearly exclusively on controversial parts of the Affordable Care Act while talking to supporters at Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport on Sunday afternoon, hammering on an issue that has riled up many conservatives in hopes that their anger about “Obamacare” can be translated into an unexpected burst of votes on Tuesday.

Cuccinelli, the Republican candidate for Virginia governor, said that the new law has crushed the liberties of Americans and hurt some Virginians and others whose health-care plans have been canceled or changed. He called it the “unaffordable care act” and promised to staunchly oppose the expansion of Medicaid in Virginia. As the candidate criticized President Obama, one woman in the crowd joined in by shouting: “He’s a loser!”

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“On Tuesday, you can decide with your vote to support the Obamacare Medicaid expansion with Terry McAuliffe, or you can oppose expanding Obamacare with the Medicaid expansion by voting for me,” Cuccinelli told a crowd of about 150. “On Tuesday, we will send Washington a message: No more Obamacare in Virginia.”

Cuccinelli said that he wants to win two-to-one here in the Shenandoah Valley. It was a stunningly beautiful fall day and the backdrop for the event was purple mountains towering behind red- and orange-leafed trees and golden-dried agriculture fields — a perfect day to canvas, Cuccinelli and others told the crowd.

After speaking at the area’s airport, just south of Harrisonburg, Cuccinelli planned to visit airports in Lynchburg and Roanoke, and then visit a party office in Abingdon — all largely conservative areas where Cuccinelli could pick up votes if more people went to the polls.

Cuccinelli has been lagging behind McAuliffe, the Democratic candidate, in recent polls. But the size of McAuliffe’s lead has varied, and Cuccinelli said that he feels the campaign gaining momentum.

“There’s a reason we have this momentum, and it’s because of substance. It’s because people believe that our approach to governing Virginia is the best for them and their families,” Cuccinelli told reporters on Sunday. “We may be ahead now, I don’t know. . . . We’re all sort of in the black box now, and we will see what happens on Tuesday night. But I will tell you what, the enthusiasm that we’re getting is incredible.”

Cuccinelli’s opposition to the new health-care law resounded with many in the crowd, including Rowena Richards, 63, who lives in a Harrisonburg community for those older than 55. Richards is retired,but she is too young to qualify for Medicare, so she pays $285 a month for health-care coverage. Richards said that she recently learned that plan will be discontinued at the end of the year and that a comparable one would cost more than $1,000 a month. She said that she has not yet explored other options.

“He was the first attorney general to stand up against it,” Richards said of Cuccinelli. “He got it right way back then. I like what he stands for, I like that he stands against Obamacare.”

Cuccinelli mostly focused on the health-care law, but he also took a swipe at McAuliffe’s “Hollywood values” and low approval rating from the NRA; the federal government’s deficit; the Environmental Protection Agency (which he called “the employment prevention agency”); and what he said was the ever-growing size of government.

“More government hasn’t been working out so great for us, has it?” Cuccinelli said, receiving several verbal answers from the crowd. “They have their extremist left-wing agenda that doesn’t involve you standing on your own two feet.”

Among his supporters in the crowd were John and Dale Carr, who traveled to the rally from Charlottesville on Sunday afternoon with their 28-year-old son. The couple has been actively involved with politics since 2008, and they are especially big fans of the politics and ministry of E.W. Jackson, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor. The Carrs have ancestors who fought in the American Revolution and the Civil War, and they said they consider themselves fighters in another war to keep their country free.

They think the government should encourage those with the energy and ability to get jobs instead of being dependent on government services. So they said they are frustrated to see a “socialist-type, progressive agenda” dictate the future of their country, said John Carr, as he held an orange “Sportsmen for Jackson” bumper sticker and waited for the event to begin.

“We’re very, very concerned about the direction our country is headed,” said Carr, who retired to Charlottesville with his wife after directing an investment firm in Memphis for many years. “We’re patriots. We are not right-wing zealots. We’re educated. We’re not rednecks, like some like to make us out to be. I guess we’re probably tea party sympathizers.”

As the event was winding down, Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Pat Mullins reminded the crowd of the importance of Tuesday’s election. He framed the race not only as a state election, but also a fight against federal politics and outside groups that have funded McAuliffe, including Planned Parenthood’s political arm, labor unions, education associations and environmental activists.

“They’re all in here for a reason,” Mullins said. “They’re not just trying to buy a seat at the table, they’re trying to buy the table. . . . They’re trying to buy Virginia, and we’re not going to let that happen on Tuesday. We’re going to send a message across the Potomac River that McAuliffe, Obama, Clinton, Holder, dirty Harry Reid and the whole crew: You stay on your side of the river, you practice D.C.-Illinois-New York politics over there. . . . Virginia is standing firm for the values and principles and beliefs that this Commonwealth was built on.”

 
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